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Pennsylvania Statutory Research: PA Statutes Access Options

This guide reviews the history and current status of the Pennsylvania statutory codification project, and lists electronic and print options for Pennsylvania statutory research.

Introduction

Pennsylvania statutory law is divided between several different sources. This section of the guide discusses those sources and the differences between them. Use the pull-down menu or the links below to see your access options.

  • Slip laws: When the General Assembly enacts a bill, the bills are first published individually as slip laws.
  • Laws of Pennsylvania: At the end of every legislative session, all of the slip laws passed in that session are bound into one or more volumes titled Laws of Pennsylvania, also known as the pamphlet laws. Because the Laws of Pennsylvania are arranged chronologically, by order of passage, rather than by subject matter, they are not ideal for most day-to-day legal research.
  • Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes: In the 1970s, the Commonwealth began publishing an official code, the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, which organizes laws by subject matter. However, not all laws passed by the General Assembly can be found in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Only laws of a general and permanent nature qualify for codification. Budget and appropriation bills are not codified, for example. Furthermore, not all laws passed prior to 1970 have been codified in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.
  • Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated and Consolidated Statutes Annotated: Purdon's is an unofficial codification of the Commonwealth's statutes published by Thomson Reuters. In addition to the statutory text, it also includes cross-references, footnotes, historical notes, and commentary.